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Writing: A Necessity? Essay

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Writing: A Necessity?


What, specifically, is so necessary about writing? What inspired the first cavemen to use an instrument (bone or stick) dipped in the indelible dyes derived from plants to create petroglyphs upon a wall? Why did the ancient Egyptians find it necessary to formulate a process that would create the first papyrus sheets making language a portable commodity? What was it that made Gutenberg want to simplify the printing process so that text could be mass-produced and disseminated to more people? George Farquhar (1678-1703) is attributed with the quote, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” In light of this statement, I must ask again, what is so necessary about writing that the need to do so has given rise to the invention of paints and inks, the stylus and pencil and quill, the fountain pen and ballpoint, typewriters and fonts, and finally computers and word-processing? I believe there are two very simple and basic reasons behind this so-called “necessity” of these created inventions – reasons as old as mankind’s innate human nature.

First of all, people desire to communicate – this desire transcended mere touch and hand signals or facial expressions and became language. Not to trivialize and condense the ages of development into a paragraph, but as more complex concepts arose it created the need for more complicated symbols and signs to convey meaning accurately. Human memory being what it is, fallible and ultimately terminal, written language became the vehicle to transport the second, and probably more important factor in the continuing invention of written technology – people want to leave something of themselves to posterity. This may be in the form of a story, a poem, a last will and testa...


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...r of invention – at least where the desire to communicate is concerned. History has shown mankind’s aspirations to not only leave a message behind, but to invent better processes to preserve and spread those messages. I cannot conceive of sending a message to my sister in Arizona on the sycamore leaf from my backyard faintly inscribed with charcoal from an old apple tree stump. Chances of it arriving in one piece would be slim. However, with today’s technology, I can email her or engage in instant messaging. Technology has made communication easier and quicker, but to this I must add one more question – has it made it better? When we are limited and each word becomes a painstaking choice, perhaps the weight of the message becomes greater, clearer, more profound than when we have the ability to run on and on chasing a flashing cursor across a clean white page.


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